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Some lighthearted reading on some serious politics

Eye on the


By Frances Lamberts

Molly Ivins was a gifted journalist covering the legislature’s sessions in her Lone-Star home state, Texas, as well as contributing analysis and insightful commentary on national issues of her time.

I still remember her from the then MacNeil/ Lehrer predecessor program of the nightly News Hour, stating her observations in what she called “participatory and a little advocacy journalism.”

She had a refreshing sense of humor and masterful, funny way of presenting what she reported on. One might well turn to some of her comments and reflections in a 1991 book (“Molly Ivins can’t say that, can she?”) to gain a distanced perspective, perhaps even understanding and a hopeful outlook for the politics in our democracy, in our time.

Here an example, as she quotes from the “customary legislative mangle” in her state’s House and Senate chambers sessions.

The work there might be so slow-starting as to elicit this mixed-metaphor prodding from the speaker: “Dissension has been hit by an avalanche of creepin’ paralysis.”

What paralysis, it seems, is afflicting the federal government’s 117th Congress too, one might ask? It has been deadlocked for almost a year over the President’s legislative vision – to greatly advance educational opportunity for America’s children, for example, or to launch a Climate Conservation Corps in the Build Back Better plan.

This, especially, would employ many workers to help the country save on energy costs through efficiency measures, mitigate the impacts of climate change through weather-disaster adaptation, and transition to renewable energy.

Yet it seems to face unbridgeable opposition, both between and within the major political parties, to the large expenditures needed, given that these would address many public-welfare issues directly rather than in an indirect, trickle-down approach through tax cuts for the corporate world and the wealthy, primarily.

As Ivins notes, the legislators’ logic in their impasse might be greeted, now and then, with “I can ‘splain it to you, but I can’t understand it for you.”

Another example she cites has timely relevance in the climate crisis we face: “As we debate this bill, da sword of Damocles is hanging over Pandora’s box.”

Indeed, our nationwide weather-disaster experience this year shows the need for more and faster climate action, yet some substantial accomplishments, in four bipartisan climate bills passed, may also be noted.

And the winds of change on energy transitioning are strong – some 20 percent renewables installations every year, for a decade, will place the country on track for emissions-free electricity by 2035.